Architectural study for the remodel of an a period craftsman home in Bellingham, WA.

An architectural study for the restoration of the main entrance of a period craftsman home in Bellingham, WA.


I met with some clients last week who remodeled their previous house themselves. They were unhappy with some of the results. Not wanting to make the same mistakes with their new home they wanted to know how they should proceed.


Working with an experienced design professional is certainly the best place to start. A talented designer can help the home owner envision a comprehensive master plan for the project. Most home owners tend to focus on individual aspects of the remodel, and less frequently on ‘the big picture’ and how it all fits together.


The scope of the master plan is the entire remodel—now and future. It imagines the renovation project as a whole. Once this new floor plan has been developed, the project can be broken down into individual projects or phases. Whether you have a need to phase the renovation to accommodate your budget, or because you plan to be living in the house during construction, or because you’re going to do the work yourself, the master plan will serve as the map of how this can happen.


One of the greatest values in developing a master plan from a construction point-of-view is that it will assist you in understanding the horizontal and vertical connections between rooms and spaces. If you plan to remodel the foyer what will be the impact on the living room? If you plan to update the shared fireplace between the living room and the dining room will those two rooms need to be addressed at the same time? The master plan for the remodel will address those questions—and many others—as the new plan is designed and developed.


This is a section of the master plan that includes the living room and eat-in kitchen. This is the first remodel that was completed. A future remodel would include the bath rooms and the bedroom wing. 


Allow me to share with you one recent example of the value of a master plan. I have some wonderful Seattle clients who bought a vacation house which will become their retirement home. They intend to upgrade the house over time and ready it for retirement while enjoying it as a weekend home. They have a decade or so before it becomes their full time home. However, they want to be confident that the improvements that they make will fit together over time and give them the house which will satisfy their future requirements.


A master plan was developed based on their current understanding of their needs. The value in developing this tool is that now they have a road map of where to go with the house. Interestingly, the master plan has encouraged them to ask questions which had not occurred to them until they saw the whole design on paper. This plan is allowing them to ponder whether this design is what they want to build out or, are there additional improvements that could be made? For instance, this plan raised the question of whether the guestroom and the office would be better if the locations were switched.


As in this example, you can see that the master plan is a useful tool to determine if the remodeled home will look and function in the way you imagined. The plan will allow you to assess whether the spaces flow together and whether the design satisfies your needs. The master plan will also show you which areas need to be handled together and which can be done independently.  Developing a well thought out and creative master plan is going to help you each step along the way!



Architectural study of exterior street elevation with with new sun porch cottage windows and and restored entrance door.

Architectural study of the exterior street elevation with with new sun porch cottage windows and and restored Craftsman entrance door.


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